The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3

Allen, Thomas


Allhallows the Great.


In , between Hay-wharf-lane and All-hallows lane, stands the parochial church of All-hallows the Great, so called to distinguish it from another in this ward, also dedicated to All-saints, by the stile of All-hallows the Less.

All-hallows the Great, otherwise All-hallows the more, and Allhallows in the ropery, from its vicinity to a hay wharf, and its situation amongst rope-makers, who in ancient times had walks on that spot, is situate on the south side of , it is a rectory, founded by the noble family of the Despensers, who presented thereunto in the year . From whom it passed with the heiress to the earl of Warwick and Salisbury; and at last to the crown, by settlement from the widow of Richard Nevil, earl of Warwick, upon king Henry VII. And Henry VIII. exchanged this church with the archbishop of Canterbury in the year of his reign, who, for the time being, has continued patron thereof ever since: and it is numbered amongst the peculiars of that see. The ancient church was very handsome, with a large cloister on the south side thereof, about the church-yard: and was rich and beautiful within. But it fell in the general conflagration of the city in .

The plan of the present edifice is an oblong square, increased as in many of Wren's designs by the addition of an aisle; in the present instance on the north side of the church; a heavy square tower is attached to the same side occupying a portion of the aisle. The north side is made into divisions, containing as many windows with semicircular arched heads lighting the aisle; beneath the extreme windows are doorways, the eastern lintelled, and the western arched in a segment and covered with a pediment; the elevation is finished with a cornice and parapet; the tower rises above the division from the east, in unequal stories; the contains a low arched window, the a circular , and the , which is entirely clear of the church, has semicircular arched windows in every front; the elevation is finished with a cornice and parapet; the latter pierced with a trellis work, a clerestory (being the southern wall of the body of the church) rises above the aisle; it contains low arched windows. The eastern front has a large arched window in the centre (now converted into a circle) between smaller ones of the same form in the body of the church, and in the aisle; the elevation finishes with a cornice and parapet. The south front agrees with the opposite , except in regard to the tower, and the clerestory; the windows of the latter occupying a continuation of the main elevation owing to the absence of the


aisle on this side of the building. The western front is a copy of the eastern. A large portion of the masonry of the exterior has evidently been preserved from the old church, or some other ancient building; the courses are regular, but the stones as in most ancient buildings are rough, except in the parapets and a great portion of the tower, in which smooth masonry is applied. In consequence this church has an antique appearance, especially the south side, which has every indication of an ancient building modernized. A similar application of old materials has already been noticed at St. Bartholomew's church by the Exchange.

The entrances in the north wall of the church lead into the aisle, which, contrary to the usual arrangement of parish churches, is separated from the body of the church by a wall. In consequence the aisle forms a spacious vestibule, extending the whole length of the building, and containing entrances to the church, the vestry, belfry, and by a flight of stairs to the pulpit; the tower stands upon strong semicircular arches without ornament.

The body of the church is spacious and cheerful, a circumstance which its exterior would not lead the spectator to expect; it has no pillars, and the area is occupied by pews. The order is an irregular Doric; the enrichments are sparingly applied, but the boldness of the detail gives an air of grandeur to the building. The aisle was intended to communicate with the church by means of bold semicircular arches resting on square pillars, capped by an impost cornice, the soffits occupied by sunk pannels containing roses, and the key stones carved into winged cherubims. As before observed, the aisle is now separated from the nave by a wall, which appears not to have been the original intention of the architect, as the ornaments of the arches and the nature of the partition wall evince. To the inner face of the pillars which sustain the arches, are attached pilasters, surmounted by an entablature, acting as an impost to the arches of the ceiling; the south wall is ornamented with blank arches, and pilasters to correspond with the opposite side. The east and west ends have pilasters attached to the piers between the windows, also sustaining an entablature; the ceiling is partially coved with an horizontal centre, the former portion is pierced with arches above the windows, which spring from the entablature over the pilasters; owing to the unequal spans of the lateral arches at the east and west ends of the building, the architect has quitted the semicircular form, and actually introduced arches; there being no range of windows at the end, the wall within the lateral arches is occupied with circular wreaths of foliage. The centre of the ceiling forms a large oblong pannel bounded by a cornice, the soffit of which is enriched with a spiral wreath of foliage encircling a wand. At the west end is a


gallery sustained on square pillars, containing a brilliant toned organ, erected in . The splendour of this church lies in the magnificently carved wood work, set up at the expense of the merchants of the Hanse towns. The most remarkable is a lofty screen, crossing the church from north to south in the middle of the division from the west. It is formed of oak, and has a lofty centre, consisting of a lintelled aperture, equal in breadth with the aisle of the church, covered with an entablature and pediment sustained on antae; no regular order of architecture is observed, the enrichments are borrowed from the Corinthian; below the lintel is an eagle with expanded wings, the insignia of the donors. The superior cornice of the pediment is broken to let in the arms of king Charles II. the face of the antae is entirely pierced through in a minute but elegant filagree work, the delicacy of the tendrils and flowrets forming the ornaments is surprising, when the nature of the material and the vast extent of the carving is considered; south and north of this entrance is an arcade consisting of small arches, every alternate being sustained on pillars composed of entwined spirals, having a common capital and base, and the intermediate ones finished with pendants; the spandrls of the arches are pierced, and the upright finishes with a cornice of acanthines; above of the side doorways are smaller pediments broken, and containing shields; the screen has faces exactly similar, fronting the altar, the other the church. This elegant screen, with that at , , which greatly resembles the present, though in a very inferior style of execution, are the only ones in the metropolis. It is commonly reported that it was manufactured at Hamburgh ; this is a mistaken idea: any conversant with the splendid decorations of the cathedral and parochial churches of London, will immediately recognize the masterly hand of Gibbins in the carvings. The error has arisen by confounding this with the altar screen, a mistake easily made, when it is recollected that the latter is alone met with in modern churches. The pulpit and desks are in a corresponding style of decoration with the splendid screen, and are evidently carved by the same hand; the material is also oak. The pulpit is hexagonal, the pannels richly adorned with wreaths of fruit and foliage: the sounding board of the same form has a curiously pannelled soffit, and the cornice rises pedimentally over every face; it is surmounted by the eagle of the Hanse merchants, and winged boys sustaining festoons of foliage, in which wheat ears and grapes are predominant. The reading and clerk's desks have pannels of open filagree work in the same surprising style as the screen, and even the stairs to the pulpit are richly carved; the whole are grouped against the north wall of the church, at a short distance westward of the screen. In addition to these matchless specimens of carved work, is a small statue, about feet in height, of Charity trampling upon Envy,


affixed to the front of the gallery, also executed in oak, in a style of beauty equal to the other specimens in the church. The altar screen is composed of a pannelled stylobate, and Corinthian pillars, coupled with the same number of pilasters, all sustained on plinths, and supporting an entablature. The tables of the law are arched, and apparently united by hinges: in front of the pilasters, on pedestals, are statues about feet in height, of Moses and Aaron; the former has a rattan for a wand (not original), and the latter the customary incense pot; the entablature is surmounted by an attic crowned with an elliptical pediment; in the former are slabs of marble inscribed with the Creed and Paternoster, and on acroteria are flaming urns. The whole is formed of composition imitating various coloured marbles with gilt enrichments, and not only the style but the decorations shew that the screen is of foreign workmanship, and that the present and not the chancel screen was manufactured at Hamburgh. The altar table is composed of a ledger, supported by an angel with expanded wings in the style of an Atlas. The introduction at an altar of sculpture of any kind, even the unmeaning subjects (for a Christian church) here introduced, it may reasonably be supposed would startle an over zealous Protestant; hence we see that a sapient rector of the church fancying that of his congregation who bowed reverently towards the altar in his devotions, was actually so infatuated with idolatry as to worship the statues of the Jewish lawgiver and high priest, commanded the obnoxious idols to be destroyed; happily the iconoclastic Vandal was restrained by a higher power, and the nameless statues were preserved and still remain without the least fear of their ever becoming objects of religious worship. In the east window are apparently the arms of a bishop, in stained glass, but very much faded. The font, situated beneath the western gallery, is an octangular basin of freestone, on a pillar of the same form, with a cover of carved oak in an inferior style to the general decorations. The rails enclosing the font, as well as those of the altar are twisted, a mode of decoration forming a grand feature in this building. The pavement of the church is black and white marble, in lozenges, probably a further donation of the liberal mercantile corporation to which the church is indebted for its splendid ornaments.

The present building was erected in , by sir Christopher Wren. The expense was The dimensions are length , breadth , height feet.

The church of Allhallows the Less, called also Allhallows on the Cellars, , because it stood on vaults let out for cellars, was situated near Allhallows the Great, on the south side of the street. It was a rectory, originally in the gift of the bishop of Winchester, and rebuilt by sir John Poultney, who purchased the advowson, and appropriated it to the college of St. Lawrence Poultney. And the steeple and choir of


this church stood on an arched gate, being the entry to a great house, called Cold Harburgh.

From the time that this church was so appropriated, it became a curacy or donative; and falling to the crown, with the said college, at its dissolution, queen Elizabeth granted it for years to William Verle; and king James I. in the year of his reign, sold it to Richard Blake, &c. and their heirs for ever, in free soccage. By which means the impropriation is now in the heirs or assigns of the right Rev. Dr. Edward Waddington, late bishop of Chichester, deceased. The site is reserved to bury the inhabitants.

The Steel-yard, corruptly Still-yard, which lies to the west of Allhallows church, and close to Cosin-lane, so called from Cosin, the builder thereof, was originally the hall of the Almaine, Hanseatic, or German merchants, where they had warehouses for wheat, rye, and other grain; and for cables, ropes, pitch, tar, masts, hemp, flax, linen cloth, wainscots, wax, steel, &c. Unto these merchants, in the year , Henry III., in the year of his reign, at the request of his brother Richard, earl of Cornwall, king of Almain, granted, that all and singular the merchants, having a house in the city of London, commonly called , should be maintained and upholden through the whole realm, by all such freedom, and free usages or liberties, as by the king, and in his noble progenitor's time, they had and enjoyed, &c. In the of Edward I. these merchants engaged to repair Bishopsgate, in consideration of which agreement, the citizens consented that these merchants should enjoy their ancient privileges. A measure, perhaps, that might well suit the circumstances of the city and nation in those days; but it was found in the end, as commerce and navigation increased, necessary to abridge, and then to annul these grants to foreign merchants.

About the time of king Henry IV. the English began to trade themselves into the east parts; at which the Easterlings, or merchants of the Dutch House, were so offended, that they took several of their ships and goods, and offered them several other injuries; which occasioned great complaints and differences between the said king Henry IV. and Conradus de Junigen, then master general of the Dutch order in Prussia with the Hanse towns, and divers embassies passed betwixt them on that account; the result of which, in short, was this: That the said king Henry IV. finding, by the said privileges granted to foreigners, his own subjects, (to the great prejudice of the realm) very much crippled in their trade, did revoke such parts of the privileges of the aforesaid Dutch company, as were inconsistent with the carrying on of a trade by the natives of this realm; and for the better encouragement of his own subjects, did, in the year of his reign, grant his charter to the merchants


trading into the East land, containing many great privileges and immunities; which had a good effect for the bringing of the trade much more into the hands of the natives of the realm than it was before. King Edward IV. for their mole ample encouragement, did, in the year of his reign, grant another large charter to the merchants of England, especially to those residing in the Netherlands; with several additional immunities and privileges.

In king Edward VI.«s reign, the Steelyard merchants behaved so badly, that his majesty seized upon their charter.

In the and of Philip and Mary was granted a charter to the Russia company, afterwards confirmed by act of parliament in the year of queen Elizabeth.

Until whose time, though the trade of this nation was carried on much more by the natives thereof than had been formerly, yet had the society of the Dutch Hanse at the Steelyard much the advantage of them, by means of their well regulated societies, and the privileges they enjoyed; insomuch that almost the whole trade was driven by them to that degree, that queen Elizabeth herself, when she came to have a war, was forced to buy the hemp, pitch, tar, powder, and other naval provisions which she wanted, of foreigners, and that too at their rates. Nor were there any stores of either in the land to supply her occasions on a sudden, but what, at great rates, she prevailed with them to fetch for her, even in title of war, her own subjects being then but very little traders.

To remedy which, no better expedient could be found by the said queen and her council, than by encouraging her own subjects to be merchants; which she did by electing out of them several societies of merchants, as that of the East-land company, and other companies; by which means, and by cancelling many of the privileges of the fore-mentioned Dutch Hanse society, the trade in general, by degrees, came to be managed by the natives of this realm ; and, consequently, the profits of all those trades accrued to the English nation; trade in general, and English shipping, were increased; her own customs vastly augmented; and, what was at the great end of all, obtained, viz. that she had constantly lying at home, in the hands of her own subjects, all sorts of naval provisions and stores, which she could make use of as her occasions required, without any dependence on her neighbours for the same.

The present state of this hall and yard, is a large, open place, with wide passages for carts to the river side, where there is a crane, and stairs for landing iron, of which here are always large quantities kept. In this yard are some good houses for merchants, who trade in iron, for which it is of great note, but was formerly of greater, from the merchants of Almain. Here are likewise, at present, large warehouses for depositing goods belonging to the East India company.

Over the entrance to the Steel-yard is an oval shield, ornamented with foliage, within which is a spread eagle collared with a ducal


crown; around it is the following inscription:

More to the west, almost facing , in Joiner's-hall buildings, is Joiner's-hall, which was formerly

remarkably curious for a magnificent screen at the entering into the hall-room, having demi-savages, and a variety of other enrichments, carved in right wainscot. The great parlour was wainscotted with cedar.

All these enrichments were destroyed in a fire some years ago. At present the hall is in the occupation of Messrs. Gandell and Co. packers. It is a large edifice of brick, with noble windows covered with pediments, supported by consoles. The portal is ancient and ornamented with figures in lead rising from shells, with clubs in their hands.

On the north side of , is , formerly called Little Elbow-lane, so called from its bending form from St. Michael's Royal into . On the north side of is


[] It is not improbable that some portions of the materials of Cold harbour were used in the walls of the present church.

[] Vide ante, i. 200.

[] Described ante, page 447.

[] Whose arms in stained glass are in the window of the present church of the united parishes.

[] Vide ante, p. 150.

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 Title Page
 CHAPTER I: The site, extent, buildings, population, commerce, and a view of the progressive increase of London
 CHAPTER II: List of the parishes and churches in London, with their incumbents, &c
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of Aldersgate Ward
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of Aldgate Ward
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of Bassishaw Ward
CHAPTER VI: History and Topography of Billingsgate Ward
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of Bishopsgate Ward, Without and Within
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of Bread-street Ward
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of Bridge Ward Within
CHAPTER X: History and Topography of Broad-street Ward
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of Candlewick Ward
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of Castle Baynard Ward
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of Cheap Ward
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of Coleman-street Ward
CHAPTER XV: History and Topography of Cordwainer's-street Ward
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of Cornhill Ward
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Ward Within
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Yard Without
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topography of Dowgate Yard
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of Farringdom Ward Within
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of Farringdon Ward Without
CHAPTER XXII: History and Topography of Langbourn Ward
CHAPTER XXIII: History and Topography of Lime-street Ward
CHAPTER XXIV: History and Topogrpahy of Portsoken Ward
CHAPTER XXV: History and Topography of Queenhithe Ward
CHAPTER XXVI: History and Topography of Tower Ward
CHAPTER XXVII: History and Topography of Vintry Ward
CHAPTER XXVIII: History and Topography of Wallbrook Ward